Winner Foam Paul Huf Award 2017:
Romain Mader – The Following is a True Story
17 November 2017 – 7 February 2018
In March of this year, an international jury named Romain Mader (1988, Switzerland) as the winner of the eleventh Foam Paul Huf Award 2017. This is an annual competition for young photographers until the age of 35, organised by Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam. In addition to a cash prize of €20,000, the winner is also offered a solo exhibition in Foam. Mader won the Foam Paul Huf Award for his series Ekaterina, depicting the search for a bride in the fictitious city of Ekaterina. The series is part of an exhibition consisting of several projects that jointly form a narrative about a naive young man in search of a wife.
Mader plays with the tension between reality and fiction. His work stands out for the humour and irony with which he addresses serious topics such as loneliness, love, exploitation and the female body. Beneath the seeming superficiality of his images, his work contains many layers that can be interpreted in various ways.
The Following is a True Story offers a chronological overview of Romain Mader’s attempts to find a wife. In the series Moi Avec Des Filles (2009), Mader tries to create the impression that he is quite a ladies’ man by posing with attractive hostesses at a car show. In De Nouveaux Amies (2011) he undertakes very awkward attempts to make new friends by posing with apparently random groups of people on the beach. He then decides to take serious action by deploying a ‘wingman’ to help him get a girlfriend, as depicted in the slide show The Girlfriend Experience (2012-17). After a brief affair with Priscillia, it is time to find a female companion fit to be his wife. The series Ekatarina shows the episode in which he travels to the fantasy city of Ekatarina, which is mysteriously inhabited by only women who are all named Ekatarina. After he finds his own Ekatarina, he asks her to marry him at the foot of the Matterhorn in his home country of Switzerland. In addition to the photographs, the story is also told by means of a video consisting of a slide show with the artist’s voice-over, reporting on his amorous adventure. The exhibition ends with his most recent work, The Honeymoon (2017): a video documenting his honeymoon in which Mader promises his brand new wife a two-week stay in a honeymoon suite, but in the end the couple spend three months travelling like hillbillies through an economically ravaged Greece.
Mader plays a subtle game with what we believe to be true – a game with which he confronts us with our own assumptions and prejudices. In this day and age, of ‘fake news’ and idealised user profiles on social media, Mader’s work demonstrates that the familiar question about the truthfulness of photography is still a relevant one.
Romain Mader (1988, Switzerland) studied photography at ECAL in Lausanne, Switzerland, and will complete his Master’s in Fine Arts in Zürich this year. He came to international attention after his work was featured in the 2016 group exhibition Performing for the Camera in London’s Tate Modern. This coincided with the publication of the book Ekatarina (Mörel Books). Mader’s work has been included in several international group exhibitions, and he has also had a number of solo exhibitions in his home country of Switzerland. Foam is now hosting his first international solo exhibition. Since 2012, Mader regularly collaborates with artist Nadja Kilchhofer.
This exhibition is made possible by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.
The Following is a True Story by Romain Mader can be seen from 17 November 2017 – 07 Febuary 2018 at Foam. Open daily 10am - 6pm, Thurs/Fri 10am - 9pm. __
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